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Apology from the pulpit: 'I overlooked this,' Archbishop says

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KSTP reports that Archbishop John Nienstedt, sticking to prepared remarks that had been released on Saturday, said that Catholic bishops have failed in their response to the clergy-abuse crisis. He made the comments in a Sunday homily at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Edina.

WCCO reported that Nienstedt apologized to parishioners "for the indignation that you justifiably feel. You deserve better."

The Star Tribune reports that officials with the archdiocese prohibited reporters from speaking to anyone inside the building or on church property, although members of the media were allowed to listen to the archbishop speak. The newspaper noted the archbishop's public appearance regarding the priest misconduct scandal is rare.

Even more rare was the news conference after the church service. FOX 9 reported that Neinstedt admitted that he had overlooked investigations, originally believing they had been previously addressed.

"When I arrived here seven years ago, one of the first things I was told is that this whole question of sexual abuse had been taken care of. I didn't have to worry about it, unfortunately I believed that," adding, "I overlooked this; I should have investigated it a lot more than I did."

The prepared comments come a few weeks the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis released a list of abusive priests in response to a court order. The list named 32 priests accused of sexually abusing minors. The same court order requires the Diocese of Winona to release its own list of accused priests by Tuesday.Nienstedt’s apology comes amid numerous allegations that some church leaders ignored warnings of sexual misconduct. In his homily, Nienstedt said that a majority of the allegations against the priests named a week ago happened in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Again, that is not to excuse those actions or diminish the harm done to their victims,” Nienstedt wrote. “But it does indicate that progress is being made in reducing the incidence of such terrible misconduct. There is reason, even now, to be hopeful.”

FOX 9 posted the prepared remarks from Archbishop John Nienstedt, which read, in part:

"My dear friends, I suggest to you Saint Josephine as a patroness, an intercessor for the trials that we have been going through these past ten weeks here in the Archdiocese.

The negative news reports about past incidents of clerical sexual abuse in this local Church have rightly been met with shame, embarrassment and outrage that such heinous acts could be perpetrated by men who had taken priestly vows as well as bishops who failed to remove them from ministry.

I am here to apologize for the indignation that you justifiably feel. You deserve better. While only one of the crimes against minors has happened in this Archdiocese since 2002, that is still one too many. But, if we review carefully the list of 34 priests that was disclosed a week ago in The Catholic Spirit, the majority of those allegations go back to the 1970's and 1980's. Again, that is not to excuse those actions or diminish the harm done to their victims. But it does indicate that progress is being made in reducing the incidence of such terrible misconduct. There is reason, even now, to be hopeful.

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